FIFA has told Crossfire Premier to take its case against Major League Soccer and the United States Soccer Federation for solidarity payments to the governing body’s Dispute Resolution Chamber in a letter obtained by SI.com. Since February, Crossfire has been seeking payments on DeAndre Yedlin’s transfer from MLS to Tottenham Hotspur in conjunction with FIFA regulations.
After initiating correspondence with Spurs, Crossfire alleges that MLS prevented the club receiving its due payment and that U.S. Soccer would not intervene. On June 29, Crossfire sent a letter to the FIFA Executive Committee asking for intervention or permission to sue MLS and U.S. Soccer in the U.S. or United Kingdom.
“We acknowledge receipt of your correspondence … and have noted that you deem that Crossfire Foundation is entitled to a portion of the solidarity contribution,” FIFA says in its letter, which was copied to U.S. Soccer. “The body competent to hear disputes relating to the solidarity mechanism between clubs belonging to different associations is the Dispute Resolution Chamber.”
The usually steep cost was one major sticking point that prevented Crossfire from taking its case to the DRC immediately, but the letter from FIFA states that bringing this case would cost no more than 5,000 Swiss francs, or just less than $5,300 at the time of writing. The club previously believed it would be on the hook for 25,000 francs or $26,300, a much more prohibitive amount.
Because the buying club is responsible for paying solidarity fees to a player’s previous youth clubs, Crossfire will have to bring its case against Tottenham rather than MLS and U.S. Soccer directly. However, through divulging details of the case to FIFA, the American bodies will likely be roped into the proceedings as well, should Crossfire file its claim in Zurich.
In FIFA's Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, Article 20 dictates that training compensation must be paid to all clubs that had a hand in a player’s development up to age 21 for first-time professionals and transfers between clubs in different national associations until he turns 23.
Article 21 states that solidarity is due for non-free player transfers to every club that held his registration until age 23.
Training compensation is designed to reimburse clubs for their expenses in a player's training, while solidarity is meant to reward clubs for that development, regardless of who paid the fees.
Yedlin turned 22 earlier this month.
Since Crossfire’s initial letter to FIFA, the list of clubs going public with disputes against U.S. Soccer and MLS with regard to solidarity has grown. It now includes Chicago Magic, De Anza Force, Westside Timbers, Northwest Nationals and Clint Dempsey’s former club, Dallas Texans SC, as well as others that have not publicly divulged their grievances yet.
In earlier interviews with SI.com, Texans president Paul Stewart and Crossfire lawyer Lance Reich said the class of U.S. clubs is considering an alternative to requiring adherence to the FIFA regulations. They would be open to establishing a unique system whereby American clubs could be rewarded and incentivized for player development.
However, with FIFA’s acknowledgement of the case and a clear path to filing claims with the world’s governing body, time for a settlement among all parties involved is growing ever shorter.